SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has agreed to pay $349,000 in attorney fees to settle a lawsuit over the state's so-called "ag-gag" law that a federal judge found unconstitutional last summer.
The Legislature approved a bill in 2012 that made it a class B misdemeanor to trespass on private livestock or poultry operations and record sound or images without the owner's permission. It also prohibited seeking employment with the intent of making those recordings.1 comment on this story
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several individuals claimed the law violated their rights to free speech and equal protection. They argued the law criminalizes undercover investigations and videography at slaughterhouses, factory farms and other agricultural operations, and silenced speech that is critical of the industry.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby recognized the need to protect the agriculture industry but not at the expense of the First Amendment.